Petition Pushes for End to Israel’s Gaza Blockade
One year after a ceasefire agreement ended Gaza’s 51-day war, hundreds of thousands of people have signed a petition urging world leaders to pressure Israel to lift its blockade of the Palestinian territory.
The petition – launched by the online activist group Avaaz and supported by dozens of other organizations, including World Vision International and Medical Aid for Palestinians – notes that 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza remain homeless and calls for “urgent action” to allow more construction materials to enter the besieged coastal enclave.
“For a whole year Israel has restricted basic and essential construction materials from entering Gaza. Not one of the 19,000 homes that were bombed and destroyed has been fully rebuilt,” notes the petition, released on Wednesday, Al Jazeera reportes.
Organizers said they were aiming to gain 1.8 million signatories, representing the current population of the Gaza Strip. The move comes a year after a ceasefire agreement ended the war on August 26, 2014.
Just five percent of the nearly seven million tons of cement, steel and aggregates required to rebuild Gaza have so far been allowed to enter the territory, according to Avaaz. At that rate, the group noted, it could take 17 years to complete reconstruction.
In addition to the Israeli blockade, Gaza’s border with Egypt is also frequently closed and smuggling tunnels in Gaza’s south have been systematically destroyed. The ongoing political bickering between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been blamed for further stalling reconstruction.
“What Gaza needs more than anything is reconstruction, yet Israel restricts the entry of even the most basic building materials … [preventing] the rebuilding of even the most vital infrastructure in Gaza, including hospitals and clinics,” said Tony Laurance, the CEO of Medical Aid for Palestinians.
Organizations supporting the petition are calling on donor countries, who collectively pledged $3.5bn in aid to rebuild Gaza at the 2014 Cairo conference, to fulfil their promises.
The 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza killed more than 2,200 Palestinians. Thousands of houses were damaged or entirely destroyed by Israeli bombs, leaving tens of thousands of Palestinians with nowhere to live.
Gaza City resident Ibrahem el-Shatali told Avaaz that many of his friends and family were still homeless, unable to rebuild their lives.
“How can we live like this, surrounded by rubble, with no hope?… All we need are basic building materials and a fresh start,” he said.